SINGAPORE: In 1893, Swami Vivekananda made a historical speech at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago where, among other things, he spoke about religious tolerance and the embracement of diversity.
That message, 125 years on, is still relevant.
That was the message conveyed by three speakers at a seminar, Thoughts and Values proclaimed by Swamiji, organised by Vivekanand Seva Sangh and Ramaksrishna Mission Singapore and supported by the Indian High Commission on September 29.
It was held at the NTUC Centre and attended by more than 350 people.
Swami Vivekananda is noted for introducing to the western world the richness, expansiveness and universal appeal of the Indian spiritual culture.
The Hindu monk died at the age of 39 reportedly from the rupture of a blood vessel in his brain after making his views clear on diverse subjects that mattered to humankind.
Tamil writer Aravindan Neelakandan, a post-socialist thinker about Indian ethnogenesis, said that Swami Vivekananda believed that science and vedic spirituality could work together especially since the Vedas contained numerous scientific theories.
The Ramakrishna Mission Singapore’s President Swami Samachittananda said that Swami Vivekeananda believed in a bunch of values which he called “universal religion”.
“Swamiji said, ‘Help and not fight, assimilation and not destruction, harmony and peace and not dissension,” said Swami Samachittananda.
“There is religious conflict today because people have a low level of spirituality. Followers of a religion have either misunderstood or not understood the significance of their own religion and the religion of others.”
India’s High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf said: “Swami Vivekananda truly believed that only through embracing diversity would the Indian civilisation survive and thrive. He championed the pluralistic ethos of oneness.”
The audience eagerly listened to the interesting persepectives offered by a writer, monk and diplomat.